It was quite a time. Our lives getting smaller and more concentrated. The daily fear of illness and death. The terrible uncertainty and isolation. The inability to visualize the future.
Life, completely out of focus.
So now, here we are. Many of us are vaccinated and the terrible cloud of Covid is slowly receding. Infections have gone down, as have deaths. There are many reasons to be optimistic and excited. But, while it’s been scary, terrible, upsetting and sad. It’s also been quite immersive and clarifying. And as someone whose work changed during lockdown; I am wondering what’s next.
What will I keep from the pandemic year and what will I discard?
Right now, I don’t know exactly. Lockdown happened with a flip of a switch, but getting back to “normal” won’t be as swift. I’m not in a rush. I want to consider my options and be clear about my intentions. So far, I have decided, that I want to keep Zoom and the connections I have made with other artists all over the world. I am also prepared to say no to plans to protect my time. I have sworn off meandering trips to the art store or Target. For me these trips are procrastination disguised as “inspiration”. I would like to waste less time but also have more time to think. I am going to keep what brings me joy or helps me focus, which is pretty much Marie Kondo-ing my art practice. I'm keeping the good stuff and tossing the clutter.
What kinds of things will you keep or discard?
I spent most of last week taking pictures of completed paintings and now I know for sure that photography is my nemesis and I have the bruises to prove it.
Generally speaking, I enjoy everything about art. Except photography. I do not like photography. I dread photographing my artwork. It is a significant mental block. My mind goes blank whenever the word aperture is mentioned. So many settings. The lighting. The tripods. The big umbrellas. Should I use white ones or black ones, round or box shaped? IDK. The minefield of tripods and cords to trip over crammed into my basement studio. That little shutter thing that I forget to turn off and then I have to hunt for one of those flat round batteries to fix it. There is white balance, f stops, And the editing. Photoshop? Snapseed? Camera distortion? Brightness? Its confusing.
When I just can't face the lighting set up, I take the painting outside and photograph it on my driveway. I have to crouch down to get the shot before the wind (there is always WIND) blows it face down. I’m sure this is entertaining for the neighbors. Its not only hilarious, it is also dangerous (for me it seems). I got hit on the head with a big metal level this week, it fell off the top of the painting as I was trying to straighten it for the shot.
I don't know why I have difficulty with photography. It seems to go all the way back to school. I know for sure that it’s not the camera. I have tried them all. It’s me. I keep telling myself that I will conquer this nemesis and learn how to take excellent photos. And today, as I cleaned paint off the cords for the light stands (I really don't know how that happened) and put away the tripod, I remembered to turn that shutter thing off! And that is progress!
Last month, over a 3-day weekend, my husband and I decided to try a DIY At Home Creative Retreat, giving ourselves permission to ignore chores and Netflix to focus on our projects. We decided that we would have a one-and-a-half-day retreat beginning on Saturday morning and ending Sunday afternoon. The day before the retreat we made a schedule and came up with some ground rules. These were simple and included a degree of unplugging, meditation and a daily walk. We each chose a focus and the next morning we got to work. The time went by fast and we ended the day with an Artsy film from 1991.
So how did it go? Overall, we both thought it was a very useful experience. We have been mostly home for a year but much of that time gets sucked up by house projects and organizing chores. Dedicating the time and giving ourselves permission to focus on a creativity was key. Stocking the kitchen and planning meals as well as agreeing on the structure kept us from wasting time deciding what to do next. Having a schedule kept interruptions to a minimum and allowed us to select tasks to fit the time.